8.05.2008

how does that make you feel ?

Well, the dialogue about B's nails continue. I enjoy dialogue because I feel it helps me learn, not just about what others are thinking but about WHY I am thinking or feeling a certain way too.

It is true that I tend to rock the boat on purpose... but I promise that is not the case with this.

I know that when Braden came to me and asked to have his nails painted I could have told him that 'it was a girl only thing'. I am sure he would have dropped it right then and there. I really had no idea that when I explained to him that 'yes mostly girls do it, but some boys do too' that he would take to it so. There are so many reason why people choose to paint (or not paint) their nails I don't know if I would even have a good answer to give to Braden.

I don't think Braden is confused at all, he knows he's a boy. I also don't think he's wanting to be a girl. He has shown no interest in my shoes or dresses or whatever else boys who want to be girls do. I just think he likes color and its fun to paint.... plain and simple.

Why can girls wear pants and like the color blue and cut their hair short and it is considered acceptable.... but if a boy likes pink or stuffed animals or wants his hair long or nails painted its considered BAD? What is bad about it? If you say it is girly to paint your nails then it is un-girly not to... am I less of a girl because I don't?

I am worried about the parents who intentionally (or unintentionally) reinforce gender stereotypes. Boys do this.... and girls do that.... etc etc etc. I am sure they understand that the world does not really operate in black and white like that. I wonder what message the child is really learning? I think that type of reinforcement ends up teaching kids to look at what is on the outside of the person instead of what is on the inside.

As far as I can tell Braden has not yet been corrupted by the belief of strong stereotypes. Kids have the innocence to love people just as they are. To love toys or songs or characters just as they are. Adults spend a great deal of time breaking kids of that and in the process can unknowingly teach their child not to love themselves as they are.

Our whole world is filled with shades of grey. I think our children have the capacity to understand that, even at 5. I feel that by learning about all the different shades of grey now, it will help him later. It will help him understand others, to have compassion for people who are different than him, to help him realize that there are MANY MANY MANY right ways of doing things and that he will need to find the one that works best for him.

This doesn't mean I won't tell him how I feel about a subject or whether or not I think what he is doing is what 'my sense of right' is. It just means that I am there to provide information, mentor where I can and then ultimately support him on his own journey down the path HE chooses for himself.

side note: I told him today that I don't think his new school will let him come to class with his nails painted... (I really don't know for sure)... but that at least gives us an out if he really lets this drag on....

1 comment:

nora said...

I've been contemplating this one. It's had me thinking, "why would people be uncomfortable with this?" I tried to come up with some analogy to run by Ivan, and I did- how would he feel seeing Emma in one of her standard play dresses, but with a mohawk? Mohawks are something that only boys traditionally do, but that anyone with hair CAN do. So what's so bad about a girl doing it? The answer I got was "It's just a boy thing!"

There's a fine line between teaching gender difference and teaching gender stereotype, and I think to often people do the latter.

Bu then again, this is the opinion of someone who tends not to give a care about what people consider "different". Owen is VERY "different" and I've learned to live with stares. So consider your source.

I don't feel your harming B, by letting him do this. It really is probably just a phase, and can be explained to him that it's fun and silly for boys to paint their nails sometimes, but for some weird reason, it seems like people think it's okay for girls to do it all the time. This allows you to open the dialog about how silly some opinions in the world can be, etc...

And for what it's worth, if I get cancer and start losin my hair, I'm getting a mohawk. ;)

Love ya, J. *hugs to Super Cool B*